Raising musical kids

I’ve got a six year old son and a four year old daughter.

Time for music education.

Yeeks – that sounds dull! Just by thinking about the words “music education” I’m already having visions of crotchets on blackboards, and deadly dull narrations by Ustinov of “Peter and the Wolf” running through my head and killing my brain cells in primary school already…aughhhh!

Mummy! Save me!

Seriously though, a lot of people would start with boring the pants off the kids by dumping lots of symphonies and opera at them, and hoping some of it sticks.

Or they throw “Peter and the Wolf” at their long-suffering kids, and somehow expect that it won’t bore their kids half as much as it bored them.

Because they really wanted to listen to screeching violins, twittery flutes, and six hours of Wagner – or a boring old fat guy talking about musical ducks – when they were at school too.

Teaching kids to love, enjoy and relishhhhhh music!

What I’ve done, instead, is put together playlists of what I consider to be great mixes of the best of popular music from across nearly a century of popular music.

We sing along, dance along, head bang along, air guitar along, and generally groove. And we’re embarrassing, and we have heaps of fun.

And the music sticks! And they ask for more!

I don’t bother with the classical stuff much at all. I reckon that the first step to success in education is getting kids interested, and loving the subject – whether it is music, english, maths or medieval basket weaving.

Then you worry about whether what you’re introducing is “culturally approved”, once the kids are suckered in and in love with the subject area.

And I think that kids deal better with shorter songs that tell a definite story, have melodic themes that are easy to identify, and have a solid beat that is fun to groove to. I hope that doesn’t make me a heretic.

So what’s on the listening list?

My kids are listening to:

  • The B-52s: Rock Lobster, Love Shack and Roam
  • Lady Gaga: Born This Way, The Edge of Glory and Bad Romance
  • The Beatles: Revolution, Octopuses Garden and Here Comes the Sun
  • The Beach Boys: Wouldn’t it be Nice and Do it Again
  • The Monkees: Daydream Believer
  • The Cure:The Lovecats

    The ultimate sing-a-long dance track for 80s leftovers – The Lovecats! (and my kids love it!)

  • Green Day: American Idiot
  • The Hollies: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
  • John Lennon: Imagine and Happy Christmas
  • Madonna: Like a Prayer and Express Yourself
  • The Mammas and the Papas: California Dreaming
  • Midnight Oil: King of the Mountain
  • Rolling Stones: Start Me Up
  • Prince: 7
  • Hair soundtrack: Good morning, Starshine
  • The Verve: Bittersweet Symphony
  • Hunters and Collectors: Throw your arms around me
  • Goanna: Solid Rock
  • Elvis: Jailhouse Rock and A Big Hunk O’ Love, plus A Little Less Conversation (JXL Radio Edit Remix)
  • Three Dog Night: Joy to the World
  • Genghis Khan: Moscow
  • Martha and the Muffins: Echo Beach
  • Cristina Aguilera, L’il Kim, Mya and Pink: Lady Marmalade
  • Pink: Feel Good Time
  • Icehouse: Electric Blue

    OMG – it’s Iva Davies! That mullet! Be still my heart!

  • M C Hammer: U Can’t Touch This
  • Adele: Rolling in the Deep
  • Katy Perry: Last Friday Night (TGIF)
  • The Tokens: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Great music doesn’t date. Ever. I just let my kids listen to stuff I like listening to, and make sure I update the list with some good stuff regularly.

I’d call most of the stuff above “easy listening”. It’s approachable, the kids can hear the lyrics easily enough, and most of the songs have a definite theme I can discuss with them.

Naturally, I’ve put in some fun stuff that is just plain embarrassing, but that the kids love anyway. “Moscow” fits in this category, as does “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

And if you’re not ashamed to howl out the songs in the car with your kids, its a huge amount of fun.

The mix list also includes some classics from bands and artists that pretty much belong in the “must have” sack of music. Like, you have to listen to Elvis and John Lennon! 😉

So – if you have kids, what are yours listening to?